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This 96 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 96 ( 1 [2] 3 4 > >     
Another Google v. Privacy Thread
BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3483257
 11:02 am on Oct 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

In the current thread on the manipulation of Adwords Tedster pointed out this article, Times Online [technology.timesonline.co.uk]

Is this scary or what?

Google’s overall goal is to have a record of every e-mail we have ever written, every contact whose details we have recorded, every file we have created, every picture we have taken and saved, every appointment we have made, every website we have visited, every search query we have typed into its home page, every ad we have clicked on, and everything we have bought online. It wants to know and record where we have been and, thanks to our search history of airlines, car-hire firms and MapQuest, where we are going in the future and when.

Would this effort make the World a better place or is there some Orwellian motive? I can't help thinking that 10 or 15 years ago any such "goal" would have created a Universal uproar.

Rearrange the following well known phrase ... "watching - brother - is - big".

 

cmendla




msg:3485730
 4:16 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

IS_Harris sais
Fact: your information has NEVER been less safe than it is today and tommorow isn't looking so hot either.

I think a lot of people put a little too much faith in the goodwill and competence of someone holding so much data. I just want to point out something on the competence side. Just recently the US Air Force accidentaly loaded 6 nuclear cruise missiles (Something like 120KT total I believe). They lost track of them for 36 hours. I don't think there are a whole lot of things with more safeguards on them than nukes, yet there was a mistake. Multiple people made multiple mistakes.. Are we to believe that the data held by an entity such as google would be subject to more safeguards than nukes?

What about the major breeches that have happened recently with credit card data?

Data is power. In the late 1930's and 40's the Nazis used lists to round up people for their religious and political beliefs. That type of abuse is partly why the US congress swore, promised and affirmed that the social security number would NEVER, EVER, (trust us, we're congress).NEVER be used for identification... Technically that is true.. However try doing any day to day business in the US without divulging your ssn.. ie getting an adsense account, opening a bank account, purchasing a firearm, getting a loan.. you name it.. the SSN is our id.. "Your Papers Pleesssse!"

cg

annej




msg:3485760
 5:35 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

The other day a friend was writing an email through her Gmail. She was a little alarmed when she wrote about a health problem and ads concerning the problem started showing up as she typed.

zett




msg:3485774
 6:04 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just a scary thought - just think about Google making Brett an offer for Webmaster World. An offer so attractive in terms of $$$ that Brett simply can not refuse.

Now, knowing all their critics (e.g. those contributing to this thread) and their sites would definitely help Google to really play the monopoly card. And suddenly your Google search rankings are 950'd. Did you write something critical at WW? Did you applaud for a critical post?

What a scary thought.

IanKelley




msg:3485787
 6:14 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google is the new bogeyman it seems. I guess it's the right month for this thread.

And while we lament the future "what ifs" of Google's information gathering, every other large property on the net is collecting the same stuff.

loudspeaker




msg:3485805
 7:08 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Now, knowing all their critics (e.g. those contributing to this thread) and their sites would definitely help Google to really play the monopoly card. And suddenly your Google search rankings are 950'd. Did you write something critical at WW? Did you applaud for a critical post?

What? Critical? I love Google! It's my favorite company in the whole world. Go Google!

callivert




msg:3485835
 7:56 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

And while we lament the future "what ifs" of Google's information gathering, every other large property on the net is collecting the same stuff.

This is not "if." It's not even "when." It's now.

I love Google! It's my favorite company in the whole world. Go Google!

err...
Me too! Google is awesome! Please ignore all my previous comments about Google. I didn't mean them. Really. Including this one.

zett




msg:3485847
 8:12 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

What? Critical? I love Google! It's my favorite company in the whole world. Go Google!

See - it's working already. ;-)

Now all Brett has to do is to join this thread and tell us about that phone call he received the other day from Mountain View. Later that day he was see opening a bottle of champagne... (kidding, just kidding, you can take a joke, right?)

IanKelley




msg:3485875
 9:19 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is not "if." It's not even "when." It's now.

Nothing evil, scary or even remotely questionable is currently being done with user data at Google. At least not that I've heard.

Unless you want to consider just collecting, storing and learning from it (with publicized limits) to be the problem... in which case the issue is with every website on the internet with significant reach.

Somehow that fact always gets lost in these threads. There are companies with a far wider and more inclusive array of user data at their disposal.

I can't think of a rational reason to single Google out aside from their ambitious mission statement. What I am missing? Other companies have more data, even if they're not currently very good at interpreting it.

This fear of an unspecified evil use of data in the distant future... Perhaps converting user behavioral data into a mass mind control system? Cloning shopaholic copies of consumers based on their personal info and buying habits?

Whatever the case, there are a variety of companies in a position to do it, and they're every last one of em corporations.

zeus




msg:3485902
 9:49 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

loudspeaker - I would NEVER place any of my data on a Google network and I highly recomend non to do that, first the security its never 100% and Google will use your files for something thats for sure.

cmendla




msg:3486116
 11:59 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

When you go to disney, they give you the option of charging everything to your room instead of using your credit cards. I realized later that this is a stroke of genius on their part

1. Kids can charge to their room key if the parents allow it (with an optional cap)
2. Instead of having a whole lot of low dollar charges (3 bucks for an ice cream etc), they have one big charge at the end of your stay to your CC. That must do wonders for the discount rate
3. And this is the big one. I assume there are some restrictions on them tracking visitors by their credit card use. However, there is no restriction that I know of regarding disney data mining their own 'charge to the room' info.. They can get a complete profile of exactly what visitiors spent and how they move through the park.

btw - I still will use the charge to the room option.. Maybe if they see how cheap I am they'll send some coupons or something...

On a different note, I heard that there are companies who monitor what you are saying while you are on hold and then provide a transcript to the company you are calling.. Ie a car dealer.. Husband to wife while on hold "We'll go 29,900 and not a penny more".. The sales agent then has the info when they take you off hold.

In both of the cases, the effect is pretty localized. However, when every move I make is tracked, that can be scary as heck.

By the way, Google is great.. really great and wonderfull.. Pass the kool aid... thanks!

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3486174
 1:40 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nothing evil, scary or even remotely questionable is currently being done with user data at Google. At least not that I've heard.

Had this been the case do you actually think that you would have heard?

There are companies with a far wider and more inclusive array of user data at their disposal.

Such as?

I can't think of a rational reason to single Google out aside from their ambitious mission statement.

What about the list in the first post?

IanKelley




msg:3486528
 7:42 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Such as?

Seriously? AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft?

Yahoo reportedly has more cumulative reach than Google and they have user data from a larger array of linked services.

Microsoft gets daily contacts to their update service from every user of Windows on the planet that doesn't want security holes. Data passed includes IP address and a unique ID for the computer. Link that to data from their huge array of web services and properties and they are without peer (governments excepted) in terms of privacy invasion.

I'm not suggesting that there's necessarily anything wrong with this. All of the data they collect is reasonable for the operation of their properties, all of which, just like Google, are optional.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3486535
 7:54 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Data passed includes IP address and a unique ID for the computer.

But not ...

every e-mail we have ever written
every contact whose details we have recorded
every file we have created
every picture we have taken and saved
every appointment we have made
every website we have visited
every search query we have typed into its home page
every ad we have clicked on
everything we have bought online
it wants to know and record where we have been and, thanks to our search history of airlines, car-hire firms and MapQuest, where we are going in the future and when.

IanKelley




msg:3486552
 8:12 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

You're quite fond of that list :-)

Both Yahoo and Microsoft, and so many others, have all of the data on that list available to them for any user that subscribes to the relevant services. Same as Google except that Google offers less of the aforementioned services and has less users for everything but search.

Again if it's the future evil use of data that we're going to worry about, and it has to be barring evidence of current evil, then there are far bigger worries than Google.

justageek




msg:3486592
 8:47 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Again if it's the future evil use of data that we're going to worry about, and it has to be barring evidence of current evil, then there are far bigger worries than Google.

Not really. The fear is founded when talking about a company that has the means AND the will to actually do it.

Who cares if Microsoft or Yahoo! have the raw materials to do it if they can't actually pull it off on the mass scale that Google can?

JAG

mattg3




msg:3486759
 12:13 am on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Database "overlays" for exactly this purpose have been around for a couple decades at least in the direct mail and catalog industries in the US - and the results can be spookily pinpointed. So Google's goal here is not new, although both the scale and fine detail of information are expanded.

As I said biometrics are there and exist in medicine, biology and so on.
This is on a global scale and with enough data to actually produce something reasonably useful. I am sure there were "great" plans before, but if someone that has more than enough data is having that "vision" one might take it serious.

But this will be total with covariations and and and with minute to minute accounts of change of behaviour in search, chat. website visited with a reasonable accuracy (aka minus the cheaters) with huge sample sizes that minimise errors.

A mailorder company can not direct 90% of all european searches where they want them.

It's the difference between a letter opener and a hydrogen bomb, imo.

But it's not only Google that has the potential, they are just the most open about it. If it wants to compete Yahoo and MS etc will have to follow. If any of them own a cell network, they then can nicely ad GPS data.

So adsense publisher x might get smartpriced as user x that clicked on ad y didn't go to store z. Or product y will come tops in the serps as it was mentioned with 59% in Google chat

But on the positive side you might also get exactly the product you wanted, the soul mate you long for and so on. Google et. al. will obviously spin that part of the story.

mattg3




msg:3486790
 12:55 am on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

just like Google, are optional.

Choices are based on information. I am sure 90% would have no idea about why, when what.

60% might choose politician x until they know he like to grill puppies in his/her basement. If they still elect him/her then that is their own choice.

But as with politicians, are there really any choices? I don't think the privacy issue and so on is only a Google issue.

How many of us webmasters will be sitting over their stats and try to direct with their adsense data the users to the most profitable area? ;)

Google just happens to be the biggest player here..

Are we evil or do we just need to be controlled by law to act not normal?

Google is a scale issue.

IanKelley




msg:3486868
 2:41 am on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

if they can't actually pull it off

There is no technical issue of any kind stopping them. Cross linking data from multiple sources and using it for stuff is nothing new

callivert




msg:3487052
 9:09 am on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

There is no technical issue of any kind stopping them.

No technical issue of any kind?

justageek




msg:3487483
 4:44 pm on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

There is no technical issue of any kind stopping them.

Maybe...maybe not. But either way I intentionally left my pulling it off statement generic. There are technical, political, monetary and all sorts of other reasons why others could not do it.

JAG

whoisgregg




msg:3487514
 5:09 pm on Oct 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Meanwhile, the sheep of the world continue to graze contentedly........

There's an elitism in Google detractors that occasionally reveals itself. It makes the argument less appealing, imho. Feel free to keep insulting the people you are trying to convince though, I'm just suggesting a different approach might be more successful.

Of course, the main problem with "Trust us, don't trust them" is the person making that argument needs to earn sufficient trust from their audience. If they haven't (or don't even bother to make an attempt), then the logic of the argument collapses. Or at best becomes, "don't trust anyone." That's a little too extreme (and cliché) for most people who prefer to live in a world where trust is possible.

mattg3




msg:3487895
 12:20 am on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

If they haven't (or don't even bother to make an attempt), then the logic of the argument collapses.

No the trust in the argument collapses, not the logic. The argument itself might be still conclusive. If the message truthfulness is entirely based on the messenger, then there is no message.

If someone who is legastenic/foreign writes to you with many typos and it reads: Yuo hvae won in the lotteri, you might have or have not won in the lottery. If you believe the messenger is independent of the "truth".

whoisgregg




msg:3488308
 2:01 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I believe you've misunderstood me. The argument in question is not "Google will abuse everyone's privacy and bring about an Orwellian nightmare." If that was the argument, we'd be discussing evidence for and against this theory*. Instead, we've got a thread full of FUD. (Well-intentioned I believe, but still FUD.)

Therefore, the argument is "You shouldn't trust Google because I, an anonymous forum poster, say so."

Which begs the question, "Why should I trust the forum poster?" If they don't believe they need to earn enough trust, then they are arguing that trust should be given freely to random internet entities. See how that undermines the forum poster's position?

*So far, we really only have two data points in this regard. Cooperation with Chinese censorship. -1 Fighting request for search data from US Government. +1 Show me a conclusion based on two data points and I'll show you my "are you joking?" expression.

Reno




msg:3488355
 2:50 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

In the United States, our founding fathers put safeguards in place so that the 3 branches of government could block each other, not simply because of what they were doing in the colonies at that moment, but because of what they MIGHT do at some other time, given the absolutely true axiom that when too much power rests in any one place, it will eventually abuse its position for its own gain. History shows us that over and over and over.

So for me it's not about what Google or anyone else is doing today, it's what they may very well do down the road, with different leadership in place with different motives. Once a company or a government has information about you -- both good and bad -- there is no taking it back.

........................

zett




msg:3488379
 3:10 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

"You shouldn't trust Google because I, an anonymous forum poster, say so."

Sorry, but no. I think this is not the intention here. I think that the goal is awareness here. Awareness of webmaster community, and awareness of the wider public. After all, if we can not freely discuss such issues here, there's no point in having a discussion forum, right?

I think everyone should think about whether he/she should trust Google, and whether an all-mighty Google is good or evil, not just today, but also in the future.

mslina2002




msg:3488402
 3:25 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

"You shouldn't trust Google because I, an anonymous forum poster, say so."

Sorry, no here also. If I don't believe, I'll look up the facts myself and form my own opinion.

given the absolutely true axiom that when too much power rests in any one place, it will eventually abuse its position for its own gain. History shows us that over and over and over.

Absolute power can become abusive power. So we go back to partly what zett said on page 1:

at some point there may be anti-trust lawsuits. After all, someone will stop Google.

...but it involves more than anti-trust laws since that emcompasses only the U.S.... the European Community Competition Law needs to be part of it too.

whoisgregg




msg:3488487
 4:29 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you want to raise awareness then find someone who's actually guilty of the crime, prove that they are guilty, then talk about their misdeeds.

Frankly, I think it's despicable to scapegoat an entire company or an individual just to get attention for a particular political agenda. Shouldn't Google detractors hold themselves to the same standard of honesty and transparency that they demand from Google? Vague accusations are lies, plain and simple.

Let's hope that the court of public opinion, stoked by those who believe "the ends justifies the means," doesn't hang an innocent group of people.

tedster




msg:3488559
 5:30 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

So far, we really only have two data points in this regard. Cooperation with Chinese censorship. -1 Fighting request for search data from US Government. +1

Google is also resisting the the Brazilian geovernment's attempts to access Orkut's user data - at considerable legal risk. And relative to the Chinese government, Google did not hand over user information when it cooperated with the "Great Firewall of China".

The Google privacy record to date looks better than other major data collectors, such as Comcast [dailytech.com], AT&T [news.com] and many others. That last linked story discusses a newly proposed US law that would give data collectors legal protection against invasive demands for user data.

In the Orkut/Brazil case, Google has leveraged the fact that the data Brazil is demanding resides on US-based computers -- and therefore falls under US law. This is one way toward santy: extended more legal protection to all data collectors under US law. Privacy is a major social and political issue that extends FAR beyond Google. As I see it right now, Google is on the side of the user, and they need our help as a society to do this well.

[edited by: tedster at 8:26 pm (utc) on Oct. 26, 2007]

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3488689
 8:08 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Frankly, I think it's despicable to scapegoat an entire company or an individual just to get attention for a particular political agenda. Shouldn't Google detractors hold themselves to the same standard of honesty and transparency that they demand from Google? Vague accusations are lies, plain and simple.

Well I stared this thread and I can ssure that I have no desire to draw attention to any political agenda. This has nothing to do with "Google detractors" or accusing Google of anything at this stage.

All I was doing was giving my opinion that it would be dangerous to trust any private concern with that scary amount of personal information. I was also pointing out that while the Google of today may be quite benign in their intentions the same may not apply a few years down the line.

whoisgregg




msg:3488769
 9:54 pm on Oct 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Starting a thread does not dictate what direction the thread will go. However, a first post certainly can have an effect. Do you think this language suggests a particular direction?

Is this scary or what? ... or is there some Orwellian motive?

The idea of "innocent until proven guilty" is necessarily accompanied by the burden of proof being placed squarely on the shoulders of the accuser, not of the accused. And I'm not naive enough to fall for "well I didn't actually say anything bad about them, I just asked some questions."

mendeleev




msg:3488944
 3:49 am on Oct 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just an idea. Why can't someone create an open-source, peer-to-peer anonymizer proxy network. Basically, whenever you browse the internet, requests randomly get routed via some other computer running such a client. Load balancing keeps any one system from getting overloaded. So if enough people use such a network - nothing can easily be traced to anyone?

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